training

A Quick Recap

Life is a song – sing it.

Life is a game – play it.

Life is a challenge – meet it.

Life is a dream – realize it.

Life is a sacrifice – offer it.

Life is love – enjoy it.

-Sai Baba
10000130_10151909552782397_880395334_n
Hello All!

A lot has been going on since my last post!  For starters, we found a new home for Ellie through HeavenSent Bulldog Rescue.  The volunteer came to pick her up and take her to her new owner on Saturday.  We were very sorry to give her up, but happy to know she is at least going to a great home where she will be spoiled rotten.  Regardless, it still stung a little when she took off with the volunteer and jumped in her car without even looking back.  It was as if she new she was going to her forever home.  I haven’t cried about it yet today, so I guess that’s progress.

1606769_10151924501192397_1605137012_oIn other (less bittersweet) news, the hubs has made an effort to show his support of my new found love of swimming by surprising me with a water proof ipod!  It always amazes me the things he picks up on when I’m talking to (or at) him… Sometimes I wonder if he even listens (truthfully, most of the time I think he just tunes me out).  However in this case, he happened to pick up on the fact that I had entered a giveaway for one on Swim Bike Mom’s blog.  I told him I had read that ear plugs are recommended for open water swimming and joked that I should just invest in the ipod instead.  I had never in a million years thought he would go out and buy me one!  I haven’t actually had a chance to use it yet, but I am definitely pumped about trying it out.  I think may start with some classical music (to help with the swimming anxiety) but am open for suggestions on a swimming playlist.

On that note, swimming classes have been going fairly well.  I have been swapping back and forth between the beginner and intermediate lanes based on the coaches mood and number of people in the class.  I have basically found that whatever lane I choose will be the wrong one, so I generally will pick the beginner lane to start… being promoted is better on the ego than demoted after all.  😉  Yesterday I also did a 3 hour swim clinic with the Tri Club: same coaches, same freezing pool, with the addition of the Tri Club members and the hubs.  I have to admit it was a little refreshing to watch the hubs struggle with some of the drills… not because I enjoyed watching him suffer, but because my hard work actually gave me an edge over his natural athletic talent for a change!

Beyond swimming, training in general continues… though I will admit I’ve been slacking on the running.  That may 1977169_10152302040113637_772837830_nbe why I gained a couple pounds at the last weigh in…. Or it could have been the pizza, doritos, and brownie sundae I binged on after giving up Ellie…  Regardless, the hubs and I DEMOLISHED our challenge this week for the Fit Challenge of jumping rope 3000 times a piece.  Currently we continue to hover in third place with the last of the challenges now done (GO TEAM RICE!)  Next week will be a repeat of our fit test, and the following week will be our last weigh in- that means we are almost done!  (Happy dance! No more scale!)  While I gained at the last weigh in, the hubs was down to 194 lbs which he was pretty pleased with himself about.  With any luck (and his weight loss), we might just sneak up to second place.

As far as all the other craziness going on recently, my mom has sold her house and bought a new one to downsize.  That has meant I’ve spent a considerable amount of my free time trying to help her clean, pack, and move some of her belongings to my place for temporary storage.  So my spare room is crammed to the ceiling, but luckily that is easily remedied by shutting the door.  As if that weren’t enough going on, I also have been promoted to a management position at work, which essentially means I work more hours for free. 😉

So there you have it: Ellie drama, parents moving, job promotion, new waterproof ipod, and continued training.

Despite all the craziness, I have managed find a few good reads recently which I’ve added below:

How about you? Anything crazy going on in your life?  Any good reads recently?

My body may feel crappy, but my heart is soaring…

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

-Margaret Thatcher
Image
For a change today, I think I am going to start my update in the present and work back.  For starters, I feel like absolute poo today!  (I’m pretty sure it’s partly my own fault) Rather than wait until I’m feeling better to post (because who knows when I’ll have time again!) I figured I’d take advantage of my gift for multitasking and update you all today. You’re welcome!
I was already a little under the weather when I woke up on Saturday for my night shift (14+ hours of call with no rest for the weary!).  I had hoped that since I got my ass kicked slammed the rest of the week that the call gods would take pity on me, but no such luck.  Sunday I stayed awake just long enough to weigh in (139.2!) with the hubs (197.6!) and finish our Bingo Card Challenge… and then grab a really high calorie meal (Plan B Burger… YUM! I have no regrets btw).  I crashed for most of the day and then had to work another 13 hr shift again yesterday.
Needless to say, I was not in the spryest condition when I dragged myself out of bed at 4 AM this morning (On my day off!) to go to the pool.  Just because I didn’t suffer enough public embarrassment at my last round of Masters Swimming, I actually signed up AGAIN!  Yes, same pool troll.  What can I say?  She’s kind of grown on me.  Plus, I need all the help I can get with the swim and bike, so off to session one of Masters Swimming I went (at 4 o’clock in the freakin morning).
Because the morning coach (somehow, despite being nicer) usually has harder workouts, I was expecting to feel like I was about to drown for most of the class… like 59 out of 60 minutes.  I have not been as diligent with my independent swimming as I could have been, and I was afraid I was going to pay for it.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that I not only didn’t drown, but also kept up with one of the swimmers I have been admiring from afar (she’s always Imageswimming on my way to and from spin and makes it look so effortless… and no I don’t stalk her, it happens to be the view on the way!)
We only swam a little over a mile in that hour, which is less than what I have been doing on my own.  In general, I try to get up to 2000 m before I get out (in an effort to make that distance seem routine on race day… whenever that turns out to be). I was pleasantly surprised when we got out of the pool and I wasn’t even tired.  Whats more, while swimming I had no screaming lungs, no bright white light or tunnel vision, AND I was able to do whole 75’s and 100’s without stopping.  Okay, so it was only one 100 m, but it was still a big deal to me!
After my awesome swim, I decided to get some miles on the treadmill before our session with the trainer.  I logged another 6 miles at an average of 8:20 pace, which brought me to 56 miles for this month and over 100 miles for the year.  My run also felt pretty good… aside from the part where I accidentally hit the emergency stop lever and had to start over.
I did make an effort to have a protein shake between my swim and run.  Then I also added an amino acid mix to my water during the run and finished the whole bottle during the run.  In between my run and the workout with the trainer, I scarfed a quick granola/nut/protein bar.  Since I only had a banana before my swim (it was literally all I could choke down at that hour), I am pretty sure I was still low on fuel.  The workout with the trainer was with a kettlebell and consisted of 5 rounds of 15 reps of each of the following: swings, squat with row, figure-eight (I was horribly uncoordinated as these and have the bruises to prove it!), then regular squats and Russian twists holding the kettlebell.  The hubs sailed through his reps, but my kettlebell literally felt like it weighed 100 lbs.  I made it through all 5 rounds with short breaks between exercises to give my bad shoulder a break.  Once we finished, we predictably had to do the whole thing AGAIN.  This time I opted for a lighter 20 lb dumbbell which made things slightly more awkward but irritated my shoulder significantly less.  Following the second time through all 5 god-forsaken-rounds, we had to do 10 minutes on the stepper at a “fast” pace. We all know how much I love the stepper, so we will just leave it at that.
By the first time through I was running on fumes.  I struggle with my shoulder on the kettlebell stuff on a good day.  Trying to do a whole kettlebell workout after swimming and running was laughable at best.  By the time we finished the second go and did the stepper, I was only managing by sheer determination.  It took me a few minutes of rest to feel like myself enough to head to the car.  After showering I was mostly feeling hungry, but after breakfast I started to have GI issues.  I figured it was from pushing too hard without hydrating enough, however now that I am having shaking chills I’m just praying it’s not the flu.  (BTW shaking chills suck majorly… and makes it difficult to type).  1621819_590464874377485_9095596_nNow I know what  you are thinking “Silly girl! Why don’t you get some rest?” The thing is it’s a little difficult when you are a) uncomfortable, b) shaking uncontrollably (this is some skilled one handed typing going on btw), and c) can’t stay out of the bathroom for more than 10 minutes… come to think of it, I may have zofran hidden in there somewhere.  Besides, it ‘s going to take a a little more than some silly chills and gi upset to keep this girl out of commission.  A girl’s got a things to do and LOTS to be excited about. 😉
Speaking of which, the good news is that in the midst of all the chaos this week, I got a very exciting delivery from Swim Bike Mom!   I had mentioned to her that I was sorry I had purchased the kindle addition of her book instead of the hardcopy (you know, so I could cuddle it and curl up with it at night).  Well, in addition to being an inspiring athlete and writer, she is also super generous and sent me a paperback copy of her book!  How AWESOME is that!?!  Now I have my very own copy of the Triathlon Bible to carry with me everywhere I go. 😉
In the spirit of giving and paying it forward, I am planning a Triathlon for Every Woman giveaway (my personal gift to you), so that one of you lucky readers too can be awed and inspired by Swim Bike Mom as well!  Stay tuned for more details!

When you can’t fit it all in one post…

“What winning is to me is not giving up, is no matter what’s thrown at me, I can take it. And I can keep going.”

Patrick Swayze
Image

So I realized that in all my fervor and adoration for Triathlon For Every Woman, I forgot to update you all about the Fitness Challenge. Since we were going to be away and unable to complete the challenge during the week, our trainer (who is running the challenge) allowed us to do it before we left.  It consisted of doing as many box jumps as possible in one minute.  My box was 12 inches and the hubs had one 18 inches.  I was pretty sure I did close to 60 and the hubs had close to 50, but the trainer said he only recorded me at 49 and the bubs at even less… which I think is his attempt to keep us from winning (due to the fact that we are already awesome!)  Of course, his attempts have been thwarted because we are still in third place despite his meddling.  Muahahahaha! Go Team Rice!

In truth, I really don’t care at all about winning, especially given that I am only in this thing to be supportive of the hubs.  However, I am certainly not going to ever miss an opportunity to give the trainer a hard time, especially when he is trying not to give me credit for my hard work.  He did offer to let us redo the challenge yesterday when I called him out on it, but I told him that wouldn’t be fair since the challenge had passed.  We are going to play by the rules even if he isn’t. 😉

Our challenge this week consists of accomplishing everything listed on the bingo card below.  The hubs and I already knocked out a lot of it yesterday and only have a few more tasks left each.  So far I have completed the 100×2 lunges, 100×2 jump lunges, 100 squats, 100 jump squats, 100 toe touches, 100 sit ups, 100 jumping jacks, 200 mountain climbers, 50 box jumps, 100 kettlebell swings, 50 burpees (oh the suck!), 100 rope swings, 200 jump ropes, 100 pushups, 50 chin ups, 50 pull ups, 50 dips, and 5K (in 24:35).  The hubs is a little behind and still needs to do the chin ups, pull ups, and dips… in addition to the rest we have left.

Image

Looking back at all we did yesterday, now I don’t feel as bad that I was sucking wind so badly on my swim the following morning…

As far as our weigh in this week, my weight stayed exactly the same at 140.3 and the hubs was up about a pound.  What I learned from this is that I can actually stuff my face and eat whatever I want (like in San Diego, yum!) as long as a run 20 miles a week… or there’s a good chance that I’m not getting in enough calories to keep up with what I normally do in a week and that is why my weight never changes regardless of how healthy I eat.  I know… I need to work on that. :-/

The good news is, I am already trying to get more healthy calories in.  Yesterday I went grocery shopping and got lots of fruits and vegetables.  The only problem is that it is a huge chore to only eat clean and still get in enough calories. Healthy food just doesn’t have enough calories in it!  Plus it just isn’t feasible for me to being eating every 2 hours at work, which is how often I am hungry ready to pass out if I don’t eat.  At some point I may need to sit down with a dietician and figure this eating things out.  Lucky for me, I happen to be surrounded by them.

In the meantime, I may just have to get by eating everything in sight. jk… sort of….

Why I have the Best Husband Ever

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
-Lao Tzu 

Image

 

Before I get into details of why I have the best husband ever, I should probably update you all on how the Fitness Challenge is going.  Our last weigh in I came in at 140.3 lbs.  I have been pretty much hovering in a 2 lb swing between 140 and 142, and that is totally ok with me.   The hubs was down to 200.3, which is over 10 lbs down from where he started.  I am so proud of him! He has been super committed to getting fitter, and his dedication is paying off.  Not that I really thought he needed to lose weight, but if he is happy then I am happy.  Plus, he has been much more energetic and upbeat since he started eating better and working out more regularly which is a Imagetotal bonus for me!  🙂

Our challenge this week was to attend a session of boot camp.  Since I was working for every other session, Thursday was the day for me.  The hubs decided he would rather go together than on his own, so he came too.  The workout consisted of a lot of sprints (yuck!) with various other exercises mixed in (butt kicks, side shuffles, planks, calf raises, walking lunges, and wall sits…).  For some reason my legs were really fried, which sort of surprised me after not having done a leg work out in several days.  I chalked it up to doubling up on legs last week and not adequately recovering due to working so much and not sleeping enough.  We both made it through the workout without any issue; however, when I was still hurting the following day, I decided to take a rest day to try and combat all the soreness and general fatigue.  Despite the reprieve, my legs were still feeling tweaky the following morning.  That lead to a modified workout with the trainer, which was a total bummer… especially when Adam got to do the real workout.  I did at least get in some spin and time on the bike trainer though (I still hate the trainer btw).

That leads me to why my husband is so great.  I never imagined falling for someone who could be so quietly supportive.  Sure he’s not ever going to be the type of guy to show up with signs or a cowbell at a race, or shout his love for me to the masses.  However, he is the kind of guy who will run a race with me when I’m not sure I can finish it… even if he hasn’t trained and my pace is painfully slow for him.  He’s the type to come to the pool with me because he knows that swimming makes me anxious.  He’s the kind of guy who, when I bought him the fancy GPS he was drooling over for his bike, bought an extra mount for mine so I could use it too.  He also regularly goes out of his way to get me thoughtful gifts to encourage me to train, like the heart rate and cadence monitors (to go with the fancy GPS) so I can track my mileage on the aforementioned bike trainer.  That’s in addition to setting it up for me every time I want to use it because he knows I am too technology impaired to figure it out for myself.  He even goes out of his way to set my Imagebike up in the trainer (even though that I can actually handle myself) every time I use it just to let me know he cares… or maybe he’s afraid I’ll break it… jk

In all seriousness though, he has been beyond patient when it comes to anything to do with cycling- from the numerous trips to bike shops, to the agonizing over which bike to pick, to driving to Mass to get the bike I initially fell in love with, to making sure I had a flat repair kit and kick ass girlie water bottles.  Beyond that, he made a huge effort to find the most scenic and beginner friendly cycling routes in the area to help alleviate my fear of riding.  He even got me a Tough Chik chick gift card for Christmas so I could buy the bike apparel I’d been eyeing in an effort to encourage me to stick with it.

When it came to my birthday this year, he literally could not wait to give me the gift he picked out.  It’s still 9 days before my birthday, yet I am now the owner of a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch.  He was so excited to explain all the features.  I felt a little badly because I think he expected me to get as pumped as he was about it.  However, I will be the first to admit that I am not, by far, a gadget person.  I do use Runkeeper on my phone when I run, but I usually throw it in my hydration pack and use it mainly to track mileage.  I am not someone who ever had any interest in a GPS watch (other than maybe for swimming because I suck at counting laps); however, the hubs is a master at purchasing gifts.  He specifically picked one that pairs with my heart rate monitor, so I can get a more accurate measure of how many calories I burn and how hard I’m working.  I am sure I will be more excited about it once I get the hang of using it.  Luckily, I know a cute guy whose willing to help me figure it out. 😉

I know there are a lot of ladies out there who love when their men get them expensive jewelry or designer handbags, but I prefer a good pair of running shoes.  Lucky for me, I have a guy who gets it.  Just about every favorite piece of gear I’ve had from winter apparel to hiking boots and gadgets has been carefully selected by the man of my dreams.  The hubs has a special gift for getting me things I never thought I’d want or need yet now I can’t imagine living without.  More than that, he’s the type of person who put together a 10 hr playlist for my first 50K just to make my run suck a little less.  

When I was with my abuser, I was convinced that he would have done anything for me if I just asked… After the wedding fiasco, we all know just how wrong that was.  The hubs, on the other hand, truly would do anything for me.  He enjoys helping and finding ways to make me happy.  While I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves back what they are willing to put into a relationship, I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be lucky enough to find that person.  Now I feel blessed to know I have. 

Every Day is A New Day

“The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.” 
― Arnold Bennett

Image

 

Hello Again Fellow Thrivers!

First off, I am overdue in updating on the Fitness Challenge.  This past Sunday I weighed in at 141.8, which is about 2 lbs up from the week before.  While I may have indulged in some chocolate and 2 slices of pizza during the week, the extra 2 lbs was more likely related to being bloated (with my first real menstrual cycle in years… ugh! I miss my birth control already 😦 ) and having not worked out immediately prior to my weigh in.  In reality, I think my weight has just plateaued back to what is was pre-holiday because I have been hovering at 140 the rest of the week.  At this point I am already running, cycling, lifting regularly, AND watching what I eat, so not much else to do there.  

Our challenge this week is to plank 15 minutes each.  Each person is allotted two attempts per day to reach a cumulative total of 15 minutes.  I finished my planking this morning, and the hubs has about 7 minutes to go.  Don’t worry, he still has one day left.  Aside from our challenge I’ve logged 9.7 miles on the treadmill, over 19 at spin, and just over half a mile in the pool so far this week- with one day still to go. This has me right on track for my mileage goals for the year: 49/500 miles running & 107/1000 miles of biking.  I should probably also set one for swimming, but I have a much harder time getting myself to swim than anything else…. I know, all the more reason!  Okay, I’ll think about it.

Yesterday was actually my first day back in the pool in I’m not even going to mention how long.  I think with all the stress at work Image(major upheaval there.. per usual… and I just interviewed for a supervisor position… yikes!) and all unfortunate stuff (gross understatement) going on with my friends, I just needed a break from feeling like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I had forgotten just how calm and relaxing it is to be in the water when the pool is empty in the morning.  It is truly a meditative experience.  Usually running is my go to sport for stress relief, but, in this case, a good swim was exactly what I needed.  Submersed in water and weightless, it was the complete opposite of how my life has been feeling.  No chaos, just quiet.  No commotion or need to hurry.  Instead I found myself falling into a rhythm and effortlessly gliding from one end of the pool to the other.  Previously, I’ve never had an experience where swimming was anything but anxiety provoking, but this was entirely the opposite.  It was as if I escaped to a land of tranquility for a solid 30 minutes of my morning.  I left the water feeling completely refreshed and energized… and this was after surviving a particularly grueling spin class prior to the swim.  So, perhaps, there is hope for me and swimming…  Maybe this is the beginning of a love affair (just don’t tell running).

It is funny though how thirty minutes of exercise in the water can reshape your entire perspective on a day.  With all the craziness going on lately, I desperately needed to hit the reset button and charge my batteries.  Now that I have, I feel happy that even in the midst of all the sadness around I can still ground myself and find my center.  I am grateful to be at a point in my life where I can empathize with other people without letting it consume me.  Rather than get depressed, I have found that I can feel badly for other people and still feel happy and grateful for the life I have.. and not feel guilty about it.  I am no help to anyone if I let their problems and tragedies drag me down in the muck.  Instead, I have been finding more productive outlets to channel my grief.

When my friends and I started the We Support The Wilcox Girl’s fundraising page, it was exactly that.  It was a way to cope and try to help someone we cared about deeply.  There are only so many times you can tell a person “I’m so sorry for your loss” before it starts to feel hollow.  By setting up the page, we weren’t saying we felt for her we were showing her.  It was our best effort at saying “we are here for you”.  We never in a million years imagined what it would morph into.  

Based on the estimate that a single funeral costs $10,000, I set our initial fundraising goal at that value.  I figured if we could alleviate Imagethe cost of just one funeral it would be a blessing.  We decided to post the site on Saturday, and by this morning we had already surpassed that goal.  What’s more, the page filled up with hundreds of words of condolences and support.  Beyond that, our Facebook newsfeeds blew up with multiple shares of our page.  Newspapers and the town patch featured it, and even Channel 3 picked up the story.  The overwhelming support that has poured out for our friend and her family is beyond anything any of us could have imagined or hoped for.  As awful and tragic as this situation has been, the response has been uplighting beyond words.

I am very happy and grateful to belong to a community that reaches out to support each other in a time of need.  I am also grateful that on the day my friends and I attend services with this family, we can tell them how much they are loved and supported, not only by us, but hundreds of people.

If you have ever thought for a moment that a single person can’t make a big difference in the world, take a look at what four grieving women were able to accomplish by reaching out to their community.  What’s more, if the individuals who reached out to share our page, give donations, and offer support had though that way, our page Imagewould never have been successful.  Paraphrasing (loosely) Mother Theresa, “You don’t have to do great things to make a difference, just small things with great love.” Besides, maybe a single person can’t make a huge impact alone, but lots of people with a common purpose can literally move mountains and make miracles happen. 

Every day of your life is a chance to make an impact on this world.  It’s a new chance to live the life you have always dreamed of.  Nothing is life is guaranteed or given, and most of us willing never know how much time we have left.  Leave your mistakes and regrets in the past.  Tell your loved ones how you feel about them often.  Be grateful for what you have, and consider what an impact a simple act of kindness can make in someone else’s life.

I’m Sexy and I Know It

A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.
Vivica Fox 
Image

Ok fellow thrivers, I told you all I would keep you updated on my progress with the Get Fit Challenge, and that is what I am here to do!  Today was our second weigh in.  The Hubs is down 8 lbs and I am down 4 lbs (to 140) from last week.  I think most of it is primary due to water weight, especially given we both ran for an hour beforehand.  However, I am pretty sure that it’s reflective of some progress.  I have to admit that I have not been particularly focused on losing weight.  I have been focused on eating healthier.  I gave up caffeine (including Diet Coke!… *tear) and have been trying to avoid processed foods and refined sugars.  Instead, I’m getting in more protein and fresh produce.  I have to say it’s a lot easier to eat “clean” with the hubs on the same page.  He bought a juicer and is also on a healthy eating kick.

ImageI certainly don’t feel any different yet. Nor do I think I look any different, but then I was never worried about changing my appearance.  I don’t think a number on a scale is an accurate measure of health for me anyway.  Most people are shocked to hear how much I weigh because I apparently don’t look 140 lbs (not sure exactly what 140 lbs is supposed to look like, but I guess it’s not petite).  What can I say? I’m dense… literally.  I worked hard for all that muscle, so I’m not about to sweat if my BMI doesn’t coincide with my fitness level.  

More importantly that number on the scale does reflective what my body can do.  I ran my first 50 K at my heaviest weight ever, which happens to be my current weight.  At the time, I was working out with a trainer 3 days a week AND running, cycling, and training on my own.  I don’t think my body could have carried me through that kind of terrain and mileage without gaining muscle mass and strength.  Plus, I truly believe all that cross training kept me injury free.  My point is, I can do things with my body now that I couldn’t do when I was “thinner” and lighter.  I can do chin ups, knee tucks while balancing on medicine balls, and workouts my trainer’s other clients can handle.  Why? Because I have MUSCLES and I WORK HARD.  Furthermore, I am proud of what my body can do.  Every achievement is a testament to the amount of effort I’ve put in, from hours at the gym to what I put in my mouth.

I don’t need to be the fittest, hottest, or most attractive girl out there.  I just need to know that I am doing my best.  I am not working out to be sexy.  I already am sexy- whether I’m 120 lbs or 150 lbs!  I am sexy because I am driven, passionate, and know who I am.  To me, self confidence is sexy.  Pushing limits, working up a sweat, and being willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty is sexy.  

Sexy is like happiness.  It doesn’t come from someone else.  You don’t need anyone else to make you feel sexy.  It doesn’t come from skin baring photos and likes and comments on Facebook.  It’s something that comes from within, and it comes with self love and self acceptance.  People who have it don’t need to flaunt it; rather, it emanates from within them.  It’s in their smile and their walk.  It’s in the way they treat other people.  

Let me tell you all a secret.  While I may be “thin” and able to fit in a zero or size 2 (dress, for sure not pants!) I still have stretch marks, cellulite, love handles, and rolls when I sit.  Want to know another secret? I am ok with it.  Most women do.  Sure, I could concentrate on getting thinner, but that wouldn’t help the stretch marks or cellulite; and frankly, my hip bones stick out enough.  These are not things that detract from beauty.  These “flaws” are part of who I am and a body that has achieved more psychically than I ever thought possible.  What’s more, when I mentioned my stretch marks the other day to my husband he seemed genuinely surprised and said he never even noticed.  So maybe, just maybe, we ladies can be a little too hard on ourselves.

Image

Me on my bike trainer… pretty sexy, right?

Sure I have days when I feel like “a busted can of biscuits” or just unattractive in general, but then I go for a run or get in a workout.  It never fails that within minutes that feeling vanishes… not because I’m “fixing the problem,” but rather because I’m changing my perspective.  What do I care about waking up bloated if I can still run over 30 miles or dead lift my body weight?  

Today, for example, I ran 7 miles in under an hour, completed the workout of the month at the gym (10 pushups, 20 knee tucks, 30 sec plank, 20 knee tucks, 10 pushups twice through all with feet in the TRX), and did an hour on the bike trainer.  How could I hate my body after all of that?

As someone who started this blog as a way to advocate for and inspire women, I want to do more than just encourage women (and men) to go out and chase after their dreams.  I want to let them know they are beautiful, clever, lovable, and sexy.  I want to demonstrate that these are qualities we need to find and appreciate in ourselves before we expect anyone else to.  Every person has his or her own unique mystique and quirks.  Instead of trying to conform to other peoples’ expectations of how to look and behave, we should all spend our energy on accepting ourselves and celebrating our individuality.  Furthermore, we should love our bodies for what they allow us to do rather than pick apart all the parts we don’t like.  Instead of viewing ourselves as having this or that flaw, let’s all embrace the total package.  

After all, you are a pretty amazing human being. 🙂

Repeat after me: I am sexy!    

Now say it and mean it!

PS. That is my new Tough Chik tank in the photo!  YEA!!!! I got my gear 🙂  Still need to spend that gift card though.  Hang Tough Thrivers!!!!

 

New Year, New Adventures!

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”
Helen Keller 

Image

Recently, I have been a bad blogger.  I could blame the holidays, but the fact is that there are just a lot of things higher on my priority list than blogging right now. Not that blogging isn’t important to me or I don’t enjoy it, but spending time with my husband and family, getting in a good workout (or two…or three), and getting adequate sleep all rank higher on my list.  Sometimes it’s hard to juggle everything plus the full time job; unfortunately, that means frequently the blogging gets cut.  However, with the new year upon us I am going to making an effort at blogging more regularly… again 😉

One new exciting thing is with the start of 2014, I am now officially a Tough Chik.  For those of you unfamiliar with what Tough Chik is, you should check out their website.  I already have their Toughie long sleeve T-shirt, and I have to admit that I immediately wear it every time it comes out of the wash because it is just so darn comfy.  I am still waiting for my official gear to arrive, so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, my hubs gave me a gift card for Christmas (I might have sent him a few links to items on my wish list…) which I am looking forward to spending.

In other news, I have done something I never thought I would do and joined a Weight Loss Challenge.  No, I am not worried about my weight.  The hubs is trying to lose 20-30 lbs (so he can attain the appropriate weight recommended for his dream bike); and I am being a supportive wife.  We joined the Challenge as a team, so that means for every pound I don’t lose he’ll have to work that much harder.  See, supportive! Given that he is uber competitive, I thought the Challenge would be good motivation for him.  Plus, it’s through our gym, so it’s convenient AND they give a new challenge every week to get extra points toward winning.  This week was our first challenge.  It was a pretty simple fitness test consisting of as many reps as possible in 1 min for push-ups (43), sit-ups (58), and air squats (63).  Then we had to run/walk for 12 min and cover as much mileage as we could (1.68 miles).  We also had our first weigh in today (142.4).

While I am not particularly concerned with needing to drop any weight, let’s face it: after the holidays we all feel fat and bloated.  We eat waaaayyyy more crap than we would normally, and our bodies rebel against us.  Not to mention that I for one am really prone to letting a workout slide around Christmas in favor of getting some last minute errands done.  Then once my routine is messed up, it all goes to hell.  I have already been redoubling my efforts to get back on track, but this fitness challenge will add a little extra push.  Plus, with the hubs motivated to get in shape, I won’t have to feel like I need to choose between spending time with him and working out.

As some added motivation to get into better shape, the hubs has been pushing to start a family.  Initially, I had told him I wanted to attempt a Half Ironman first.  However, now I am starting to realize that I have a more finite window for producing healthy offspring than I do for accomplishing all my fitness goals.  Since you are only supposed to maintain your current level of activity when pregnant, I figured it’s best to get my arse in the best shape possible NOW.  While I realize that fitness during pregnancy is a bit of a hot topic lately, I have always been taught (as a women and healthcare professional) that exercise during pregnancy is totally safe as long as the women is already conditioned for it.  Therefore, if I am in great shape prior to getting pregnant that means it should be ok to continue strength training, spinning, running, and swimming (in moderation).  Obviously, all that would be off in the event of a complicated pregnancy; but I am a firm believer that being a fit pregnant women is good for the baby and mom… not to mention the easier delivery/recovery.  Plus, if I am going to be a vessel for a baby, I want to be the healthiest possible vessel.  To me, that means eating healthy AND working out for as long as it’s safe to do so.

That’s about all the excitement I have to share for now.  I will keep you all posted on the Weight Loss Challenge and family expasion progress.  In the meantime, you can rest assured that I will continue to kill it in the gym.  I hope you all had a lovely holiday.

Much Love!

The Running Thriver

Why Would You Do That?

“Happiness comes only when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable.”
-Leo Rosten 

Image

 

I have stopped telling people I’m training for a half ironman.  In fact, I have stopped mentioning to people that I want to do tri’s at all.  Why?  Well, frankly, I am tired of people asking “why would you do that?”  The first question in itself is not too bothersome, but the barrage that follows is: “don’t you have to swim?” “isn’t swimming hard?” “aren’t you worried about the swim?” “do you have any experience at that?” “don’t you think you should start with something shorter?” “you know I heard that course was hard”… It goes on and on.

ImageWhile I appreciate the genuine concern, sometimes it makes me want to scream.  OF COURSE I know the course is hard!  It’s a half ironman! That is the whole point!  Why would I expect it to be easy?  Also, I am well aware there is swimming involved; but last time I checked, it was not impossible to learn to swim as an adult.  As far as having experience, if we all waited to have experience at triathlons before ever doing one, I suppose none of us ever would, would we?  Besides, I am an endurance athlete.  My favorite race distance is 13.1 miles.  I ride my bike for hours at a time.  Why on earth would I want to do anything with the word “sprint” in it?  The race would be over before I ever hit my groove.  Plus, I just don’t move that fast.  It’s not my thing, end of story.

People don’t understand this though when you try to explain it, so I’ve stopped trying.  I know they don’t mean to rain on my parade, but I’m still tired of the negativity.  I don’t want to be told I can’t or shouldn’t do something when my heart is already set on it; and I especially don’t want to hear how unhealthy my endurance training lifestyle is from people who drink, smoke, and over eat.  I feel like there is something a little backwards when people chastise me for running long distances, but pat each other on the back for binge drinking and hooking up with random strangers.  

What these people don’t understand, and there is no hope in explaining to them, is the deeper why: The is a reason I push my Imageself through grueling endurance events that goes beyond a new record or shiny bling.  It’s about building inner strength and reminding myself what I’m made of.  I try to pick at least one race a year that is way outside my comfort zone because I don’t ever want to stop challenging myself or pushing my limits.  I want to keep finding things that look impossible and prove to myself they aren’t.  Every event is an opportunity to look fear and doubt in the face and then leave them in the dust.  These events have helped mold my identity and make me feel good about myself.

For me, it’s also a reminder that all pain ends eventually.  Not just on the race course, but in life.  It’s a conditioning exercise in dealing with bad times and crisis.  Anyone can handle life when things are going well, but doing these events gives me that extra faith in myself that I’ll be able to handle whatever else life throws at me as well.  

When I was with my abuser, he made it a point to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough.  He pointed out that I couldn’t handle “any little thing” and regularly pointed out everything he thought was wrong with me.  He truly believed that I was Imageweak and couldn’t handle life.  Doing a half ironman (especially after selling my rings to buy a bike) will be my way of saying “hey pal, you couldn’t have been more wrong about me.”  Even more than that, it addresses those little twinges of doubt that linger even years after the abuse.  That little voice that creeps up and tells you that he may have been right...there’s no better way to silence it than prove it wrong.

At the end of the day, when I am out there in the midst of a race hating life and wanting to quit- that is when I am learning who I am and growing.  That is when I feel most alive. I’m not out there to break any records or compete with anyone else.  I am out there for me.  It’s an investment in becoming the best possible version of myself.  I don’t need cheerleaders at the sidelines or pats on the back, I just need me and the course.

I am ok if people don’t understand the why or think I’m strange.  I’ve never been one to follow the crowd anyhow.  The bottom line is I don’t know how to do anything half assed.  Anything I am going to spend energy on- from my job to my life- I am going to give 100%.  Therefore, if I am going to sign up for an event, it’s going to be the toughest one I can handle.  In this case, it’s a half ironman. After that who knows… maybe a full ironman, and no I probably won’t share that I’m training for it. 😉 

Entering New Territory

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life

as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

-Booker T. Washington 

Image

             Thank you Man Bicep! Love this one!

Today I entered uncharted territory: I started swim lessons. This was a HUGE step for me, and the final piece in my triathlon training journey.  I had intentionally saved swimming for last because I knew it would be the most difficult for me.  I was so nervous about the class starting that I literally got no sleep.  I was up every hour on the hour and just lied awake most of the night.  I was afraid that my total lack of experience would be an issue and that the swim instructor or other class members would be impatient and mean.  What I found when I arrived was quite the opposite!

ImageThe swim coach assured me that I would not be the only person foreign to lap swimming (as well as swim caps, goggles, etc), and although that was a total lie and I was the ONLY inexperienced person in the class, things still went remarkably well.  The first half of the class I tried to get the hang of putting my face in the water and breathing properly, but I was really struggling- despite the best efforts of the coach to help me.  I just couldn’t get the hang of the rhythm, and found I didn’t have enough time to get air in before putting my face back in the water. I ultimately figured I could either spend my class time working on the breathing or attempt to do the work out .  It seemed more helpful to focus on the workout and practice proper breathing on my own time.  

Once I did give up on putting my face in the water, I was actually able to keep up with the rest of the “slow” group.  I was pleasantly surprised at just how many laps I was able to swim with fairly minimal rest in between. The other swimmers were not bothered by my total newbiness, and that was a huge comfort.  In fact, they were all very supportive, assuring me it would get easier and that I was in the right place.  One swimmer even offered to work with me on the breathing outside of class, which was a super kind gesture.  Even the life guard introduced himself and offered support….which made me wonder just how badly I looked like I was struggling.  I later found out that he was the one who had taught the swimmer who offered to help me how to breath properly a few years earlier.  It appeared I was not the only person picking up swimming as an adult after all.  

Maybe it was the fact that I was so much younger than everyone else that caused everyone to take me under their wing; Imagehowever, I’m noticing that people at the YMCA are like that.  It’s like a little community there with everyone on a first name basis, which is probably why new people stick out like a sore thumb to them.  It’s comforting to be in such a warm, friendly environment when taking on something as anxiety provoking (for me) as swimming.  There is just something about putting my face in the water that makes me tense up and hyperventilate! Yet, I think if I am going to overcome that anxiety and get the hang of swimming properly that the other swimmers are right about me being in the right place.

Being in that pool today, I was pleasantly surprised with myself.  Of course, I was not thrilled about being unable to conquer the breathing, but I was excited that I was able to swim so many laps.  More than that, I was keeping up with people who have a lot more experience at swimming than I do.  Given that I have almost 8 months before the half ironman, I think  hope I should be in good shape.  

ImageIn other riveting news, I also started spin classes today!  It was super fun too!  Adam and I went together, but I don’t think he was quite as enthusiastic as I was.  In fact, I noticed I was the only person smiling through the entire workout, which I don’t completely understand… Doesn’t everyone love endorphins? 😉  By the end of the class, I had covered over 23 miles which is kind of ridiculous even for a bike.  That’s sub 3 minute miles!  Plus, that was on top of my hour of swimming (no rest for the weary there!), 4 mile run (on the dreadmill at 9 min pace), and full leg workout with the trainer.  I think it’s safe to say that I am going to be very sore and hungry tomorrow!  Don’t worry, I did at least take a nap in between my leg workout and the spinning.  🙂

 

Tomorrow it’s back to work, but I am hoping to get out early enough to catch the next swim class afterward… that is if I am still able to move by tomorrow…  Hopefully I will get some decent rest tonight.  If nothing else, at least I get to sleep until 4:30 instead of getting up at 4 for the pool!

My New Home and the Next Step

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
-Lao Tzu 

 

 

Image

 

Sadly, I am almost finished with the last of my training sessions.  :’-(  As it worked out, they wrap up just in time for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K.  I think I can safely say that I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’m hoping that will be enough to carry me through what I know will be a grueling run.  As an added incentive to hang in there, I have asked the women I am fundraising for to write some notes of encouragement that I can carry with me and read when I’m exhausted and want nothing more than to quit.  More than just having the letters to read, it will mean beyond I can even express in words to have them with me through the day.  It’s a tangible reminder to why I will be there.  Plus, I also feel like it’s a great symbolic gesture to carry them (the women, not the notes) with me on that day to overcome the challenge together. After all, our strength is drawn from our sense of community.  In reality, I think it might be the thrivers who will truly being carrying me through the day and not the other way around… 

Image

My cool new swimming gear!

Despite all the initial drama with my trainer, I have to admit that he has kind of grown on me… sort of like a little brother who annoys the hell out of you but you love him anyway...  Once we had a chance to hash things out, we were able to build a pretty solid partnership; and I am truly bummed to see it end.  As much as I would love to continue training even on a once weekly basis, between the amount of time I’ll be spending on triathlon training and the need to cut back on expenses, I just don’t think it will be feasible the next few months.  I suppose I will have to resort to kicking my own butt for awhile.  At least it’s something we all know I have experience with.  Plus with all the swimming, biking, and running that is about to commence, I am hoping I won’t lose too much ground in the conditioning department.  Besides, I always have Insanity and P90X to fall back on for cross training… and my trusty pull-up bar. 😉

The positive part about my training ending is I now have the time and funds (well not really, but I’ll make it work) to start swimming.  Up until this point I have only known how to swim to avoid drowning, so I definitely have A LOT to learn… Possibly even more than with cycling. Maybe I should be more scared… Better yet, maybe the swim instructors should be!

However, I am determined and committed. (I would like to cite the fact that I found a swim suit, goggles, and swim cap all in the off season today as proof!) I have been trying to find an affordable place to swim with a flexible pool schedule for quite some time now, and let me tell you it has been no easy task!  Ultimately, we decided that the Greater Waterbury YMCA will be my new home- for at least the next 8 months anyway.  

I picked the Greater Waterbury YMCA over our local one because they have two pools instead of one and a way more flexibleImage lap swim schedule.  In fact, I don’t think there are any hours that they don’t allow lap swimming during the day.  They also have off street parking AND for some reason the membership was cheaper… which makes no sense because it’s all the same organization.  Anyway, now that we joined, we can go to either one so I guess it doesn’t really matter.  Adam had pushed for the YMCA over the other pools I looked at because they offer spin classes (in addition to a multitude of other classes which I’m kind of excited to try out… if I ever have spare time between all my other athletic endeavors).  They also just did a 10 million renovation so the facility itself is really nice, nicer than our current gym actually and with more equipment including bikes!

As sad as I am to close the chapter on my personal training, I am equally excited about taking the next step in my journey to becoming an ironman (or at least half of one)!  I already signed up for swimming lessons and am hoping to take my first one tomorrow after work.  I am happy that my new home is filled with friendly, helpful staff, AND that they have a triathlon club which starts up this winter.  I am really looking forward to taking on this next challenge and making another step in the direction of my goal… I just hope I don’t drown in the process 😉